VCOSS supports the Victims of Crime Assistance Scheme as an important way to offer justice to people recovering from the effects of crime. While no amount of compensation can ever make up for the losses people experience or make people feel safe again when they have been victimised, the Victims of Crime Assistance can help people feel heard and understood, and provide some real recognition of the harm experienced.
However, some elements of the Act are outdated, failing to reflect our modern understandings of family violence and sexual assault and the cumulative harms and distress such crimes cause.
Broad powers to consider the victim’s ‘character’ can discriminate against vulnerable victims of crime, including those with long histories of abuse and disadvantage. Perpetrator involvement in hearings can act as a barrier to people even applying for assistance.
VCOSS supports providing victims of crime with choice about how their matters are heard and decided. Some people will value the opportunity to tell their story in a public court setting and others will find a hearing a traumatising process and prefer a decision made ‘on the papers.’
We look forward to continuing to work with the VLRC, the Government and the community sector in building a safer, more accessible and therapeutic victims of crime scheme.